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Federal judge allows execution to proceed amid lawsuit



Thomas Loden
Thomas Loden: Photo from MDOC

A federal judge has ruled to allow the State to proceed with next week’s execution of Thomas Edwin Loden Jr.

A looming lawsuit filed in 2015 on behalf of death row inmates sought to block Mississippi from using several chemicals used in executions.

Loden, a Vicksburg gunnery sergeant and Marine recruiter, kidnapped, sexually assaulted and killed then-16-year-old Lessa Marie Gray while stranded on the side of the road in Dorsey in Itawamba County.

Gray worked at a restaurant in the area. After seeing her, Loden flattened a tire on her car and waited for her to leave work. He then offered to help her, stating he was a member of the U.S. Marines.

Loden became agitated with Gray after exchanging conversation about the Marine Corps. and forced her into his van, sexually assaulting and killing her.

In 2001, Loden was sentenced to death.

Loden sat on death row for over two decades. In November, the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office asked the state to set a date for his execution.

After being brought in front of the State Supreme Court, his execution date was scheduled for Dec. 14 at 6 p.m. at Parchman.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate ruled that Loden’s execution could proceed amid the pending lawsuit.



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